By MIKE PATRICK
When L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz, I doubt that he had the famous love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) in mind, but an uncanny parallel exists between the two.
In his book, Dorothy and her dog, Toto, meet three interesting characters on their journey down the yellow brick road—the Tinman, the Scarecrow, and the Lion. Each one had a purpose in wanting to find the Wizard of Oz: Dorothy wanted to go home to Kansas; the Tinman hunted for a heart; the Scarecrow searched for a brain; the Lion desired courage.
1 Corinthians 13 begins with some expressions about the value of love. Though I speak with tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (v. 1-3).
The first verse says that no matter how emotional or ecstatic my faith may be, even if I can speak the language of God’s angels, but have not love, I am only making a lot of noise. Emotional faith – love = 0
Verse two states that I can be intellectual in my faith. I may have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, but without love I remain nothing. Intellectual faith – love = 0
Verse three contends that I may have a very active or volitional faith as evidenced by my works and deeds. Even if I voluntarily give my life for others, without love I have gained nothing. Volitional faith – love = 0
In the movie, the Tinman wishes he had a heart when singing, “I’d be tender – I’d be gentle, and awful sentimental regarding love and art. I’d be friends with the sparrows and the boy who shoots the arrows if I only had a heart.”
The Scarecrow sings, “I’d unravel every riddle for any individ’le, in trouble or in pain. With the thoughts you’ll be thinkin’ you could be another Lincoln if you only had a brain.”
The Lion fearfully pines, “It’s sad, believe me, Missy, when you’re born to be a sissy without the vim and verve. But I could show my prowess, be a lion not a mou-ess if I only had the nerve.”
Notice the parallel between the quality of the character and the expression of faith.
At the end of the story, the characters discover that the Wizard has no special powers because he simply hides behind a curtain, a man of the cloth, so to speak. To encourage her friends, Dorothy says to each of them that he already has within himself the quality for which he searches. With God in our hearts, we already have what we need. With love, we genuinely express our faith with heart, with mind, with courage.
Mike Patrick retired as Chaplain and Ministry Education Coordinator after 27 years at Hendrick Medical Center.